How to achieve -23 to -18 after normalizing?

Okay, let me explain, I’m on the verge of tearing my hair out, can someone please explain to me how to obtain the required -23 to -18 Db RMS requirement for ACX in audacity?

When I normalize to obtain the required RMS level, the sound floor buzz for the narration portion of the track is also amplified, even after I do the first step of Noise Reduction (record silence > Get noise profile > apply to whole track > then I normalize the narration portion, although I’ve tried to normalize the whole track as well to fix my issue)

My current steps are:

  1. Record silent room tone and narration
  2. Noise reduction Profile of silence portion
  3. Apply to whole track
  4. Normalize audio

But when I normalize the audio to get my target RMS, the background tone/buzz is also increased during the narration portion, how do I reduce it? Please, please someone have the answer, I’m on the verge of returning all this gear I bought. I use a Blue Yeti Microphone and a filter. Is it possible that blue yeti simply isn’t good for audiobook narration?

Step one: Stop tearing.

We published a suite of tools to get you past ACX Automated Quality Control (the Robot).

It requires some extra downloaded tools and installs, so you need to be comfortable with that. The tools depend on each other, so don’t leave any out.

Generally, it’s not the microphone. It’s always the room. Can you tell if the computer is on just by listening? Can you tell if the refrigerator is on? Can you tell when the MetroBus goes by (my personal favorite)? Those are very serious problems because Noise Reduction is not the global rescue it appears it should be, and some noises don’t reduce.

Record a test clip and post it here on the forum.

If you have real/serious problems, we can tell you right at the top and avoid cyclical troubleshooting.


Don’t blow this off. Some Yeti microphone have “celebrity problems” and we designed special tools to help with that.


I can’t seem to find the export option for audacity 2.2.2. Rest assured, I’ve tried following the steps on the other threads, but to no avail.

My audacity is set to Preferences: Default Sample Format > 16 bit

Interface: Meter db range: -96 db
44100 Hz

Is that correct?

I will return with a sample of the audio shortly, thank you.

File > Save Other: WAV.

2.2.0 is brand spankin’ new and we’re just catching up with the changes.


I’ve posted the .wav file below good sir. Recording it with blue yeti gain set to the absolute minimum and have made 0 adjustments to the file.

It’s too noisy, but I’m not going to go digging for it. You’re doing the recording wrong.

Forget the headphones for a minute. Set yourself up for a recording and change the Yeti recording volumes and your head spacing until the Audacity recording meters tip occasionally into -10dB to -6dB.

You should be about a power fist away from your pop and blast filter or one Hawaiian Shaka if you’re not using one.

That’s David Greene at the NPR Culver City Studios.

I know the Yeti is a desk mounted microphone and the recommended way to elevate it, assuming you don’t have a mic stand is the book and towel method.

Book and towel has the advantage of isolating the microphone from desk and floor vibration.

Shoot it again.

Good voice, so this should work OK once we sort the technical problems.


Followed the steps for placement and I increased the gain knob to about 45% in order to reach the -10 to -6 db during recording. If it’s still wrong, I think my motherboard usb slots might not be that great for sound recording or the mic itself might be a bunk…My computer does make a slight hum sound, so that might be causing the noise.

I’ve attached the 2nd test file, please let me know if I did it right, I placed my ear next to the mic, and honestly I can hear the computer’s hum which is about 3 feet away from the mic. I’m thinking about returning the yeti and getting a dynamic mic

Aaaaaand. We’re done. I applied the mastering suite just as it appears in the paper.

See first three readings and sentence 2/3 down.
Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 17.44.42.png
Being obsessive, I did apply very gentle noise reduction of the beast (6, 6, 6) and DeEsser at the default values. I’ll post those shortly.

I expect that to sail straight through both Robot and Human Quality Control—unless you mess up something reading.

Once you establish a reading process, you’re stuck with it until the last page. ACX hates changes in the middle of the book or between paragraphs.

Let me know if you get stuck anywhere.

Even though ACX requires submission in MP3, it’s strongly urged you do everything including performance archive in WAV. Burn the MP3 just before submission. I’ve never read a book but I’d probably chop the performance into chapters or less. ChanningBeerHall-Chapter2a.wav

That’s obsessive again. No spaces and no punctuation other than -dash- and underscore.

I wouldn’t use Audacity Projects anywhere in this process.

Are you reading this for the publisher, or are you the writer?


That’s not to say it can’t be made to sound better. I expect one of the other elves to chime in with better tonal correction. My goal is to get you working.


I think De-Esser is downloadable but I don’t remember from where. I changed the settings to the values posted and the sound is better balanced—less harsh.
Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 18.18.53.png


Thank you so much, You are a life saver. I am the writer.

It’s not in the effects collection. This is my bookmark.


If this is your first reading, there’s another production effect that may pop up. You get better as you go and about half-way through the book you go back and play chapter one and realize how sucky it is.

It’s not that unusual for New Users to read their first book over again. “I can’t submit this. It’s terrible.”

The production goal is sitting across the kitchen table from someone over steaming cups of hot tea while they tell you a fascinating story. Yes, I know the kitchen is the last place to do a quality recording, but work with me here. That’s what it should sound like. That’s the performance/acting goal.

This is why ACX will kill you instantly if you submit a voice that sounds like a bad cellphone.

Please note we’re not worried about the microphone any more.


And speaking of the Yeti. Can you burn another voice test? We’ll use test2 as a base line reference and burn another, similar test with a dress sock pulled over the top of the Yeti. Make sure it’s pulled down so the grill on top is relatively smooth and your voice only has to go through one layer. I don’t expect much volume change, but the voice may get a little more mellow.

As before. No changes or effects. Shoot it and post it.

Click the pix.



Hey, I do in fact use a foam windscreen cover on the yeti mic. Here is another raw recording, is my voice to harsh recording at that audio volume? I don’t want to embark on recording my entire book only to have it be a waste of time and rejected because my voice was too loud sounding. But if it sounds acx acceptable, then I will proceed. Thank you for your help.

Edit: Hey I apologize, I incorrectly recorded that sample, here it is at appropriate face distance and keeping it at the required db level

Here is another raw recording, is my voice to harsh recording at that audio volume?

It’s not a volume thing. ACX wants your volume to be just so and that’s why they publish the specifications. Within those specifications, the quality of your voice comes down to how much energy is taken up in certain pitches and tones. Generally, you were born with that.

Human hearing peaks around 3000Hz. That’s engineering-speak for fingernails on blackboard and baby screaming on a jet. I wish I’d kept a recording of it, but there was a new presenter on the radio whose natural voice tones would crack glass. They got a lot better over time, but their presentation still fogs my glasses.

But their loudness is exactly correct for the radio.

There’s a cousin to this problem called sibilance. That’s an odd distortion where most of your speech is OK, but all your S sounds turn into ice picks in your ears. That’s the one DeEsser is designed to help. SSiSSter SSuZZy SSinkSS or SSwimSS.

We need to address the foam screen. Was that sold as a pop and blast filter? It will help with that, but it also has the effect of muffling your voice. This tennis racket thing is a pop and blast filter that doesn’t affect your voice.

You should be about one Power Fist away from that for normal presentation. I’m perfectly clear that it’s rough to place the tennis racket when your microphone is sitting on the desk. Probably why they sent you the foam sock. Is there an instruction set with the sock? If your voice does this, do that?

I’m losing track of the versions. I’d like one version with nothing and one version with the sock. Is that test2 and test3?


rejected because my voice was too loud sounding.

You should dig through the ACX publications and see if they let you submit a sample before you read whole books. I think they do now. Everybody got tired of ACX rejecting months of work.

The top four links on this page are from ACX.

You can probably back up a link level or two and find more. They were busy changing them when I wrote the shortcut page.


Here you go, one is with the sock and one without, recorded them according to the distance seen in the pictures as well

While you were doing that, I was pulling test3 apart. There is still a technical problem. There are two places in the dialog where the microphone made up noise by itself.

“Even stars these *** giants of power” 12.85 to 12.90
“Mysterious *** Force” 15.8 to 15.9

In both cases there is a little buzz or “eh” sound that you didn’t make (I’m assuming). Crawl into your headphones and see if you can hear them.

That’s pretty serious because I don’t know of a shortcut to stop it. That kind of error doesn’t fall into a convenient basket of solutions.

I’m guessing it’s a data error.

Is the Yeti plugged into the back of the computer or one of the front convenience sockets? Are you using the USB cable that came with the Yeti?

Are you going direct? No USB hubs, extensions cables or splitters?